Decades of Fashion

Submitted by Sarah Happel on Thu, 10/24/2019 - 11:48 - 0 Comments

Upon seeing my outfit for the day, my mom exclaims how she and her friends wore the very same thing at my age, twenty or thirty years ago. Overalls, wide-leg pants, ripped jeans, denim jackets, flannels, Doc Martens, scrunchies, baggy t-shirts and sweatshirts - they had it all. Has fashion stayed the same throughout all these years?

The answer is no. The various styles people rock today aren’t brand new - rewind a decade, or two, or three. These trends, once all the rage, ended up fading into the background to make room for new ideas. Years later, some of these styles forged a path back into modern-day fashion. 
The Beauty Biz, a website with articles about care, health, fashion, etc. has a piece by Charlotte Kuchinsky that illustrates why trends follow this pattern. Clothing designers occasionally struggle to create new ideas, and as a result, end up redesigning an already existing one. Additionally, certain clothing items, such as pearl necklaces, often return to the fashion industry because they are simple, stylish, and can be worn with almost anything. Likewise, fashion from different parts of the world frequently make their way to people unfamiliar with the design, therefore catching on again. Or, people want to relive a more positive era - for example, shoulder pads for women have come back into style because of the power they once symbolized in the 1980s. 
Crop tops are just one iconic trend that made a comeback. According to Jessica Bucci from Startup Fashion, crop tops were first popular in the 1940s. At the time, they were quite controversial, showing more skin than what was socially acceptable. People usually paired their crop tops with high rise skirts until the 1970s-80s, when crop tops were redefined. They became more revealing - cut even shorter and worn with low rise bottom garments, showing off more midriff. Today, crop tops are designed in all ways; from form-fitting to baggy as well as with long sleeves to no sleeves at all. They can be worn with essentially anything, such as high or low rise jeans, leggings, shorts, and skirts. 
As we progress into the 1980s-90s a dramatic change occurred - men began to wear crop tops as well. Rachel Lubtiz from Mic, a New York City based media company, describes how influential males of the time often proudly sported short shirts to show off their bodies. In the 1980s, Prince’s signature look on tour included a crop top, followed by Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 1990s and many more. What was once used to flaunt their abs, emphasizing their masculinity, is now viewed as feminine.
Mom jeans, another trend that returned from multiple decades ago, are slightly loose high rise jeans from the 1970s-90s. Grace Burns from Weekly Knights, a student-run newspaper, explains how its name is derived from the 2000s when low rise jeans were trendy. Because of this, high rise jeans were seen as uncool, like a mom would wear them. These jeans can be worn with most upper garments and remain stylish, although they are commonly paired with loose shirts tucked in under a belt.
Cargo pants, which also made a comeback, originally had a completely functional purpose. A contributing writer from the website Our Everyday Life mentions how cargo pants were first introduced in the 1930s by British soldiers who wore them solely because of their pockets to store equipment. They only became intentionally stylish in the 1990s and were popular in both women’s and men’s fashion. Not only did the pants catch on, but cargo pockets became popular as well. Currently, cargo pockets can be found on other kinds of clothing as well, even skirts and shirts. They come in countless colors and designs, the most common being the classic green camouflage. Some people wear cargo pants as a fashion choice, while people working in the military, police force, and medical field utilize their functional side. 
Inevitably, current fashion trends go out of style. However, they may return as even more popular than they once were or have an added twist. This explains why my mom and I seemed to have similar fashion choices - what was popular decades ago is popular now, and what is popular now will be popular decades in the future.  Fashion doesn’t just move in a straight line; it’s a cycle.

About the Author

Sarah Happel's picture

Sarah started working for Beyond the Flock in 2019. In her free time, she likes to play soccer and watch the Office. Class of 2022!